Wakefield

Rated: R

        Bryan Cranston’s is a career that has lasted over three decades, yet has only recently truly taken off. With more than a few small parts in countless TV shows and a few movies from 1980 to 2000, he had steady work, but it wasn’t until 2000 that his became a household name.
        
        His big break came in the form of a sitcom called
Malcom in the Middle. Cranston played Hal, the comically quirky father whose varying passions in life often became obsessions, with uproarious results. The show ran six years; during which Cranston’s character was so memorable it would be hard to me shake the image as he took on more serious roles in the years following.

        A little over a year after the end of
Malcom in the Middle, Cranston would take on an even more loved, and much darker character in the role of Walter White in Breaking Bad. I have yet to see the show, but it’s easy to see how successful it proved to be for Cranston. In taking this role he was able to prove how dynamic an actor he truly is. I could see it being a challenge for most actors to go from goofy father to determined drug dealer, but Cranston took it in stride and made the leap appear to be an easy one.
Bryan Cranston gazes through his window behind the scenes in Wakefield (Photo courtesy of @filmWakefield)

Bryan Cranston gazes through his window behind the scenes in Wakefield (Photo courtesy of @filmWakefield)


        Fast forward 4 years and a dozen roles to today. With multiple reoccurring TV roles and several movies due to come out within the next year, Bryan Cranston’s popularity and versatility see no signs of slowing anytime soon.
 
        Which brings me to one of his most recent films,
Wakefield.  The film is based on a short story of the same name by E. L. Doctorow. It follows the journey of Howard Wakefield, a middle-aged suburbanite sick of the mundanity of his life. When he arrives home late from work one evening and sees his wife through the window, she is visibly annoyed that he hasn’t come home yet. Feeling unneeded and unloved, he stows away in the attic above the garage, quickly noticing how well his family gets on without him.
 
        I was nervous before seeing this film that it would be both too boring and too obtuse to enjoy. As I’ve mentioned over and over, just because a certain actor is in a film doesn’t mean it will be good. In this case I should’ve known that I had nothing to worry about, as there’s nothing I can think of that Bryan Cranston has ever been in that I haven’t enjoyed fully, but still I hesitated.
 
        Finally one evening I gave in and sat down to watch
Wakefield. Within the first ten minutes it was clear that I’d had nothing to hesitate or to fret over. Cranston again proves why he’s become one of the most sought after actors in the industry in his role as Howard Wakefield.
 
        The film as a whole is as entertaining as it is thought provoking. Cranston’s narration provides both the weight of each moment and the light one-liners needed to take this film from just plain odd to absolute genius.
Jennifer Garner takes direction behind the scenes in Wakefield (Photo courtesy of @filmWakefield)

Jennifer Garner takes direction behind the scenes in Wakefield (Photo courtesy of @filmWakefield)


        Writer/director Robin Swicord perfectly adapts this short story by E. L. Doctorow from the pages of the
New Yorker to the big screen, taking the time and care necessary to perfect every minute detail. It’s a care that she puts into every film she works on, and one that would’ve changed the outcome of the finished film had she not been there to oversee it.

        Wakefield
is one of those films few have heard of because it didn’t receive as much fanfare as other, bigger budget films. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t worthy of your attention. On the contrary, this is a film that deserves much more attention than it’s gotten. The Wakefield film Twitter account often says that this film showcases the best performances by Bryan Cranston and Jennifer Garner yet, and that’s no joke. I truly believe that if they weren’t stars already, these would be the roles that shoot the duo to stardom. The film and the performances contained within are magnificent, so if you get the chance to see this “hidden” gem, do it!

        Wakefield is rated R, was written and directed by Robin Swicord and stars Bryan Cranston and Jennifer Garner. It’s available now on Blu Ray, DVD and streaming. More information about the film can be found here:

  • Bryan Cranston on IMDB
  • Jennifer Garner on IMDB
  • Robin Swicord on IMDB